A Colorado Springs man will be tried for first-degree murder after authorities say he broke into his estranged wife's new apartment and shot her through the front door as she tried to enter - aiming squarely at her pregnant belly.
A judge on Tuesday ruled that Andre Demetrius Jones, 32, will be tried in the Sept. 9 slaying of Lakeisha Renay Jones, 32, who was shot once in the abdomen as she arrived at her front steps after dropping off their three children at school.
Police say the woman's keys were still dangling from her bullet-pocked front door when they responded to a mid-morning report of a shooting at the Summit Apartments, located at 2795 Reeve Circle just off Lake Avenue in south-central Colorado Springs.
Seven months pregnant by another man, Lakeisha Jones stopped breathing on the way to the hospital, but her baby was saved due to heroic efforts by first responders, according to testimony at a daylong preliminary hearing in 4th Judicial District Court.
The attack marked a tragic end to a marriage unraveling amid allegations of domestic abuse, stalking and violent threats, authorities say.
According to testimony, Jones left her husband of six years and moved their three children in with her mother after he pinned her against a wall, she told friends and relatives. She moved into a new apartment in mid-August, keeping its location a secret from her husband.
On the day of the killing, the couple were due in a Colorado Springs courtroom for a mediation hearing in their pending divorce.
Police say Andre Jones was arrested later that same day, partly because of the help of a woman at a nearby office park who spotted a man fitting Jones' description walking to a faded maroon pickup around the time of the shooting.
When police searched the area the woman described, they found a loaded 9 mm pistol inside a drainage culvert.
Ballistics testing matched the weapon to the bullet that killed Lakeshia Jones, and her 10-year-old son told police he saw a similar weapon in Jones' red Dodge pickup three days before his mother's killing.
Jones, who worked for a carpet cleaning business, missed his shift at work and was a no-show in court. Although he claimed he had overslept, police say cell phone tracking showed he was within a mile of the apartment complex at the time of the killing.
He denied owning a 9 mm pistol, but police say they found two different types of 9 mm rounds in a backpack in his home, with one type bearing the same head stamp found on a shell casing recovered from inside the apartment.
Police say they found documents belonging to Lakeshia Jones in a safe in her estranged husband's home, suggesting they were taken during the killing or at some earlier break-in.
Among those who testified Tuesday was Lt. Michael Evers, the Colorado Springs firefighter/paramedic who arrived to find Lakeisha Jones lying in blood on her porch.
Not knowing if the killer remained inside, Evers directed other first responders to take cover and dragged Jones from her front porch to a safe location, then administered chest compressions.
But for those actions, the baby could have died in the womb from lack of oxygen, according to testimony by Colorado Springs police detective Jerry Schiffelbein, who cited reports from the doctor who delivered the child by emergency Cesarean section.
The child might suffer developmental delays as a result of her traumatic birth, but the extent may not be clear for several years, lead prosecutor Donna Billek told the court.
Jones also will stand trial on suspicion of felony child abuse, among other charges, ruled 4th Judicial District Judge Barney Iuppa.
Jones, who will remain in El Paso County jail without bond pending trial, is due to be arraigned on Friday.